Amazon Kindle 2 Ebook Reader Review

Tue, Oct 5th 2010, 21:40

Have a Kindle 2 ebook reader? Hold on to it

The Amazon Kindle 2 Ebook Reader

If you happen to have the second generation Kindle, you might want to hold on to it for a little longer while, as it now seems to be extinct. In case you've missed the recent news, Amazon has released the new model and they seem to have forgotten all about the second gen. Too bad, it was the light at the end of the tunnel and we have a lot to thank to it. Considering how hard it really is to get one these days, it seems to be an idea to keep it for the sentimental value. For everyday use, on the other hand, you should check what the ravings and rejoice is all about with the new Kindle 3.

Amazon's Kindle 2 was flawed in many ways, but not nearly as much as the first iteration. That difference alone made masses to switch and though the manufacturer humbly hides sale numbers, it's estimated to have sold just under a million pieces. Staggering numbers, especially keeping the starting price in mind, $289 wasn't easy to fork out, now Kindle 3 with similar capabilities can be had for £109... brand new.

The Kindle 2 was the beginning

The third version is better in almost every aspect, but let's not forget just yet that it's all begun with the second. The dimensions are similar, but for the same 6" screen size the Kindle 2 was about 20% larger. Nothing extraordinary, but the wide bezel makes it feel clumsy by today's standards. The first edition was bulky, jagged on all corners, it rocked a rubber scrolling wheel and was as heavy as a bag of potatoes. In this light the second go-round doesn't look that enormous, nor is it uncomfortably heavy, but it still lacks the wispiness of the 3rd generation.

Within a wide white or graphite margin of plastic lies the 6" E-ink screen that makes the latest revision so great, anyone could falsely assume. While the size and resolution is the exact same, 6" from corner to corner, 800 pixels this way, 600 pixels that way, it's a completely different animal. Hardware-wise Amazon have taken a step to make sure the latest Kindle outperforms everything on the market, including all predecessors. The 50% more contrast sounds exaggerated to be true, but real life tests make it hard not to believe. Make no mistakes, the Kindle in question gives a great reading experience and looks pale only in comparison.

Memory and File Formats

There is a 2GB integrated memory for all your ebooks and audibles, there is even a music player to deal with mp3s. You can fill it with Amazon's own file format, bought right off the online Kindle store. Docs, PDFs jpegs and all sorts of e-book formats are displayed, though PDF rendering needed the polish it finally got in the 2010 version. There is one thing the device despises, and that is everyone else's DRM solutions. If you've already stocked up on DRM protected ebooks from other sources, sadly you're out of luck.

Two gigabytes of space it comes with should be enough to hold about 1,500 electronic books, or five years worth of read. To fill that enormous digital bookshelf you can either hook the device up with your PC or Mac using the supplied USB cable, or Amazon's free 3G service that patches you through to the Kindle store. Buying and downloading copies of Kindle releases requires no additional subscription or fee, it's all paid for by the provider.

You can even browse Wikipedia through the built-in web browser, however Kindle 3 pulls the royal flush on it with it's 'experimental' webkit browser yet again. If you were wondering if Kindle 2 works with Wi-Fi, I've got bad news, it is not supported in the old 6" model in any way. Usb cable or 3G, thus when no computer is around and 3G lacks coverage, you're stranded with pre-loaded ebooks.

The battery lasts for about two weeks, or 2,000 page turns. Bring a charger for longer trips, especially in areas where only EDGE or GPRS connections are available, as they drain the power source more aggressively.

The Kindle 2 is still a pretty good ebook reader after all

The Amazon Kindle 2 Ebook Reader - Colorware version

In defense of the second generation Kindle the use of materials and the new button layout has to be mentioned. The round keys are similar to those found on the latest edition, and apart from their relatively small size they're easy to use and give a decent feedback on press. The keyboard even has a numbers row, something spared in favor of the smaller device size in the new Kindle. The five way navigation pad is much more convenient to get around in the menu structure with. Page turning keys are now present on the right side and Amazon seems to have gone the extra mile to make them hard to press; no more accidental page turns when you pick the reader up.

There are a plethora of reasons to choose a Kindle 3 now that it's available. The Wi-Fi connection, extremely competitive price, four gigabytes of storage space, smaller external shell, crispier screen and higher contrast are all in favor of the newcomer, but are there real world situations where you'd be better off having a Kindle 2? The obvious one is when you already have it. The differences are not ground breaking, and the old one is a pretty good ebook reader, so it probably isn't a good idea to buy a new one just to have the extras.

You could catch a bargain

If you don't have an e-reader and are thinking about getting one in the near future, I suggest you track how much they go for on eBay or other auction sites. Many early adopters will be selling their perfectly good 'old' Kindles to put their hands on a new model. I can't blame them for doing so, but you could profit from this by snitching a second gen device for pennies. It's still one of the better iterations of the E-ink technology, the page turning is still snappy compared to some other ebook readers, and the Kindle store is just as well available for instant access over 3G as in the new 3G version.

Considering that a 3G+Wifi Kindle 3 can be had for £149, which is a steal really, a Kindle 2 is a reasonable purchase at around £80-£90 for a good condition piece. Above that it's not financially justifiable to go with anything else than the Wi-Fi only edition from the new series for £109.